“We have a problem,” said the church pastor across our phone line. “The Fire Marshall was just here for our inspection as we’re trying to obtain the occupancy permit for our new building. He asked to see our letter of certification for our new church chairs. We don’t have one! How can we get one?” We were able to help out this church, but the reality is many churches do not even consider that fire retardant standards almost always apply to their church chairs, and that there can be different standards in various localities and states. Here are a few key points to be aware of.
- The most common fire retardant standard for church furniture containing fabrics and foam is referred to as CAL 117. There are many imported fabrics and foam that do NOT meet the fire retardant standards of CAL 117. If your Fire Marshall does not request verification from your church, you may be granted occupancy even with non-compliant chairs. But if he follows standard procedure in most jurisdictions and requests such verification, your church likely will not be granted occupancy.
- A higher level fire retardant standard for church chairs is CAL 133 (California Technical Bulletin 133). This standard is currently not required for church chairs and church furniture in the majority of the country. However it is becoming more prevalent and there are some states like Massachusetts and Connecticut where it is especially common. With this standard, there is a need for the manufacturer to be aware of the CAL 133 standard before the order is placed so the chairs can be fabricated to meet the standard. There is also additional testing required then on the church chair itself.
- As you purchase your church chairs, ask about the fire retardant certification on the chairs you are considering. Make sure you ask both about the church chair foam and the church chair fabric. Both need to meet the applicable standards. We are aware of some manufacturers that simply hope your church will purchase their church chairs without asking about this subject. We encourage you to dash that hope!
At Church Furniture Partner, we will gladly share with you upfront the fire retardant ratings on all products we provide to churches. Your church will likely not purchase new church chairs often! Let us help you be thrilled with the ones you do purchase. Please contact us for more information!